Archive for May, 2012

What Do Firewalls Contribute to PC Security?

There are numerous hidden dangers out there than can affect your PC security, and the tactics grow daily. Since computer security is so important to keeping your personal information safe, most computers now come with a firewall, while those that do not strongly recommend that you install one. Here is a look at how firewalls work and how they can protect your PC’s security.

How Firewalls Keep you Secure

A firewall is needed for anyone who is on the internet for an extended period of time. Companies often use them to block access to certain sites by their employees; however, you may also utilize them at home to protect your personal computer. A firewall offers you PC security against hackers and offensive websites. Simply put, a firewall is a barrier that keeps unwanted items from accessing your computer, much like a physical firewall prevents a fire from spreading from one area to another.

The Firewall Software and What it Does for Computer Security

In the virtual world, a firewall is a program that filters information. If incoming information is flagged, the computer will not allow it through. This helps protect your computer for questionable content that could be of danger to you.

In a company scenario, a business often has multiple computers that are connected together. These computers are often simultaneously connected to the internet. If there is no firewall set up, all a hacker would have to do is access one computer in the network and he or she could access all of the company computers.

It would only take one employee leaving a computer unprotected for the entire company’s PC security to be at risk. A firewall is placed at each point of entry to the internet, thus creating a virtual barrier.

Each firewall may possess its own rules or settings. For instance, only one computer might be allowed to receive public FTP traffic and the others would only be allowed network access. The company can also block certain websites and files to keep access to the internet and the network limited.

Three Methods Firewalls Employ to Protect PC Security

There are three different methods that firewalls can use to help keep up your computer security:

1. Packet filtering – the firewall analyzes small chunks of data against filters. If the packet makes it through, it gets sent to the requesting system, and if it doesn’t then it is discarded.

2. Proxy service – the firewall obtains information from the internet and transmits it to the requesting system, and any outgoing information is retrieved by the firewall and sent to the internet.

3. Stateful inspection – this is similar to the packet filtering method, but alternatively looks at specific parts of the packet and compares it to trusted information. If information is being sent out of the firewall, then it is checked for certain characteristics, and incoming information is compared to these. If the two match up, the information is allowed through, if not it is discarded.

Customizing Your Firewall for Ultimate Computer Security

What makes firewalls so useful is the fact that they can be customized. IP addresses are one way that this can be done – if a certain IP address is reading too many company files, then the firewall can be set up to block all traffic from the specified IP address. Alternatively, domain names can be used in the same fashion, since IP addresses can change and be difficult to remember. So the company can choose to block certain domain names in efforts of overall computer security.

Another way that the firewall can protect PC security is through protocols, or the text that describes how the two ends will have their conversation. This allows the firewall to block IP, TCP, HTTP, SMTP, and other common protocols from accessing the computer. Often, only one or two computers may have access to a certain protocol, and it will be banned from all others. The firewall can also be used to block certain ports, preventing a certain type of server from being accessed except by allowed computers.

Lastly, a firewall can be set up to block specific words and phrases. This will cause the firewall to block anything that is given a certain keyword. The keyword has to be an exact match, but you can include as many words, phrases, and variations as you choose to. This type of filtering is often useful for blocking adult content from computers, particularly in the workplace or homes where children have access to the internet.

Many operating systems will have the firewall built in, but you can install your own if you do not like the factory standard application, or if one is not included. Installing a firewall is a needed step if you are serious about protecting your PC security from the outside world.

How to Check a Website’s Security

There are a large variety of things that you can do online. From downloading to shopping, to watching videos and playing games. But when it comes to website security, how do you know if a website is safe or if it contains malware, viruses of spyware? Here are some helpful tips that can keep you safe and secure while you browse the internet.

Website Name – Google It!

If you are unsure about a particular website’s security, one of the first things that you can do is to perform a search of the name of the website or the company that runs it. Look for reviews and feedback on the website, or even scams and malware that are linked to the website. If you are seeing a lot of negativity about a website, then it is a good idea to avoid doing business or downloading from that site.

Place Your Trust… in Trusted Resources

Many web browsers find relief by utilizing programs such as McAfee Site Advisor or MyWot.com. These services provide you with warning levels of each website, allowing you to see if others have had an issue with website security or have been infected with malware as a result of visiting the site. You should use caution with any website that comes up with a warning, as it could lead to your computer security being compromised.

Perform a “Who Is” Search to Determine Internet Security

Some resources on the internet will allow you to determine the website security of a site by looking at the “who is” records of the company. They will tell you information such as the registrar name, status, expiration date and more.

This information can provide you with additional information as to the credibility of the website. For example, if the website was just created recently it may not be as professional as one that has been around for much longer. Or, if the domain is set to expire soon, the website may not be as well maintained as other sites. So knowing who is in charge of the website and what they are doing is an important part of website security.

You can also use this information to get contact information on the owner of a website. Use this information to send them a brief email. A good website will have great support going all the time, meaning that you should get an answer to your question relatively quickly.

See What Others are Saying about Website Security

A great place to learn more information about a company is to check out forums and discussion boards for the specific topic. People are quite vocal about their opinions on the internet, so if a company has a bad reputation or has malware associated with it; you are going to hear about it.

Look for forums in a related topic and see what people are saying. On a more positive note, this can also be a good way to hear positive things about website security and the reputation of the company as well.

If you can’t find a thread or post about a particular website, that doesn’t mean that people don’t have an opinion. They may not have posted about it yet, or the post may have gotten buried in more current concerns. Try posting a thread of your own to see what sort of response you get about the website’s security.

Networks and Communities Share Internet Security Concerns as Well

Forums and discussion boards aren’t the only place to find information on website security. You can also check out other networks and communities that allow you to ask questions and get a response. These communities are set up to connect people with similar interests, so if you look for a community in your topic area there is sure to be someone who can give you more information about the website security of a given site.

Consider Trusted Organizations for Website Security

One last option that you have to consider website security is to go with trusted organizations that are known for keeping track of this information. For example, many people already know of the Better Business Bureau to check up on businesses, and the BBB also works with online retailers as well.

Many websites will post the seal of the organization that they are a member of. While this alone isn’t necessarily an indicator of website security, it does mean that you can check out reviews of that company online to see what others are saying.

Website security is a lot like security in real life – you must be aware of your surroundings and what is going on. The more aware you are of website security, the less likely it will be that malware will find a way onto your computer.